IDI GTA has partnered with York Region Children’s Aid Society to host its first Ramadan Intercultural dinner in York Region. The event was held at the Leslie Street location of York Region Children’s Aid Society in Newmarket on July 29th, 2013. As an interfaith and intercultural event, Ramadan Intercultural dinner aimed to create a space for dialogue, participation and awareness.

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Around 70 people attended the dinner representing a number of ethno-cultural communities and organizations in York region including Regional Municipality of York Region, Town of Newmarket, York Region District School Board, York Regional Police, Town of Georgina, York Region Centre for Community Safety, Vaughan Welcome Centre, Pathways for Children, Youth and Families of York Region, Women’s Support Network of York Region, Catholic Community Services of York Region, Aurora Cultural Centre and others.

Isabel Araya, Executive Director of the Vaughan Community Health Centre was the keynote speaker of the evening. Her presentation, titled “Community Enrichment, Social Determinants and the Quality of Life Experienced by Families”, spoke to what are the social determinant of health, how some of these social determinant of health are influencing health in York Region, particularly in the southwest area, and the how the Ontario public system is responding these social determinant of health.

A number of guests provided greetings and remarks on behalf of their respective organizations:
Jason Hastings, Regional Municipality of York
Cecil Roach, Superintendent of Equity & Engagement, York Region District School Board
Noor Din, CEO, Human Endeavours
Bruce Herridge, Deputy Chief, York Regional Police
Naushad Hirji, Board Chair, Social Services Network
Arunthathy Ratnasingham, Central General Manager, Welcome Centre Immigrant Services

Another highlight of the evening was a live Whirling Dervish performance which was introduced by a small presentation about the philosophy of this spiritual whirling. A practice which originates from the teachings of Mawlana Rumi, a 13th century Sufi poet whose ideas of all-embracing universal love and tolerance have become prominent in recent decades.